What Is Earthdog?


This is a very general description of Earthdog  The information is based on the old rules for Earthdog but it will give you the general idea of what happens.  The current rules were approved in 2004.  (These are AKC rules.  AWTA rules can be found on their web site.  Check Favorite Links page below for that site.)

The purpose of Earthdog tests is to offer breeders and owners of small Terriers and Dachshunds a standardized gauge to measure their dogs natural and trained hunting and working abilities when exposed to a hunting situation. The program begins with a basic introduction to den work and quarry and progresses through gradual steps to require the dog to demonstrate that it is capable of being trained to follow game to ground and work its quarry (adult rats). Note that the quarry is always protected from being harmed by the dog.

The following AKC breeds are classified as eligible to participate in AKC Earthdog tests: Dachshunds, Australian Terriers, Bedlington Terriers, Border Terriers, Cairn Terriers , Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Fox Terriers (Smooth and Wire), Glen of Imaal Terriers, Parson Russell Terriers, Lakeland Terriers, Manchester Terriers, Miniature Bull Terrier, Miniature Schnauzers , Norfolk Terriers, Norwich Terriers, Scottish Terriers, Sealyham Terriers, Silky Terriers, Welsh Terriers and West Highland White Terriers. (There are additions and deletions to this list from time to time.  The Test Premium will be current.)  

All dogs entered in Earthdog are to be AKC registered with one exception 
Dogs of an obviously eligible breed but without an AKC number may enter with an ILP number. (Indefinite Listing Privilege).   With this number, dogs can enter any AKC event except Conformation. This is for Rescue dogs and others of undetermined parentage or no AKC papers.   ILP dogs can receive any ribbons, awards and titles normally given to dogs that pass.  Details to apply for an ILP are available at the AKC Web Site.

Dogs not on the eligible breed list may be run as FEO (For Exhibition Only) in the IQ and JE classes.  This provision is designed to help non-eligible breeds to qualify to compete in Earthdog.  It has other uses also but these exceptions must be approved by the Test Chair. FEO dogs do not receive any AKC ribbons, awards or titles.  Ask the Test Secretary for help ahead of time.

Introduction to Quarry (IQ)
This test does not offer credit toward AKC titles and is not a prerequisite for other classes. It is for the dog that has never gone to ground before. It is not intended to fully prepare the dog for the Junior earth but only to introduce them to the concept of entering tunnels and working the rats. The tunnel is a 9-inch x 9 inch upside down U-shaped liner with an earth floor. The Intro tunnel  is 10 feet long with one 90-degree turn.  The handler brings the dog to a stake at the  release point 10 feet directly in front of the entrance, releases the dog with one short command.  After release the handler may be asked by the judge to stand by the entrance to encourage the dog to enter the tunnel. The dog has two minutes after entering the tunnel to reach the quarry and must work the quarry continuously for 30 seconds. (Working quarry includes, but is not limited to barking,  lunging, pawing, digging and generally harassing the quarry.)

Junior Earthdog Class (JE)

The Junior Class tunnel is 9"x9" and 30 feet long with three 90-degree turns. The handler must  stand quietly at the release point (which is 10 feet from the earth entrance) and may only give one command or signal upon the release of the dog. The dog must travel the entire length of the tunnel within 30 seconds of this release and work the quarry continuously for 60 seconds. A dog must pass two tests, under two different judges, to earn a JE.

Senior Earthdog (SE)

The Senior Earthdog test is open only to dogs with a JE title. The Senior Earthdog den layout more closely resembles an actual den in the wild. The tunnel in this class is the same same size and length as JE tunnel with these additions.  There is a false exit (not scented) and a false den (containing used bedding but no quarry). The release point is 20 feet from the den entrance, which is steeper and less visible than the JE test. The dog must reach the quarry within 90 seconds after release and work the quarry for 90 seconds. The judge then removes the quarry and instructs the handler to recall the dog, which must make it back to the control of the handler within 90 seconds. A dog must pass this test three times under two different judges to earn the SE title.

Master Earthdog (ME)

The Master Earthdog test is only open to dogs with an SE title. The Master Earthdog tunnel has two more additions to the Senior layout. It contains a constriction point reduced to 6 inches wide rather than 9 inches, for 18 inches,  and an obstruction to simulate a root, consisting of a 6-inch diameter pipe across the tunnel that can be moved up or down by the dog. The dogs are selected by random draw and worked in a brace. The test begins with the release of both dogs 100 to 300 yards from the den entrance and a “hunt” walk to the den.  Once both dogs find the entrance, the dog finding the entrance second must "honor", by being staked out nearby while the first dog works the den. They will trade places when the first dog finishes working. The staked dog should be reasonably quiet and not interfere with the dog in the den. The working dog has 90 seconds after release to find the quarry and must work the quarry for 90 seconds. The Judge will dig and scrape on or near the quarry cage, for the last 30 seconds when the dog is working to simulate the digging of rescuers as if it were a real hunt. The dog must continue to work without being stopped by this distraction. To earn the Master Earthdog title, dogs must pass this test four different times under at least two different judges.

NOTE: As presented these are very general descriptions only and as written based on old Rules.   A copy of the current Rules and Regulations for Earthdog can be obtained through the AKC Store at http://akc.org.   

If you are interested in some historical facts about Earthe Dogges, click on the dog below

The Factes:
    Just the Factes

For more history, click on the ferrets at the bottom of the History page.

Remember this always:  Earthdog is about the dog, not about you.
Remember that and you and your little buddy will have a whole lot more fun.

This page was last updated on 07/12/10.
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